PS3, Blu-ray, Mom

PS3 PCM
I was getting ready to buy a new A/V receiver to take advantage of the new audio formats Blu-ray has to offer, but I found out my PS3 will not pass Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD bitstreams—instead, it decodes them to PCM internally. Will the PCM signal be as good in quality? Or do I need to buy a new Blu-ray player and receiver? Or should I buy a Blu-ray player with 7.1 analog outputs and hook that up to my existing Denon receiver's multichannel inputs? It does not have HDMI inputs.

Jonathan Cola

You have no need to buy a new player—the decoded PCM will sound just as good as the Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD bitstreams. Both codecs are lossless, so decoding them to uncompressed PCM should be indistinguishable from the original. There can be slight differences in the quality of various decoders, so the one in an A/V receiver might be slightly better than the one in the PS3, but for most folks, these differences fall below the threshold of perception.

Some audiophiles think that multichannel analog outputs sound the best, but I'm not convinced that it makes enough difference to warrant buying a new player. And because the PS3 decodes the advanced audio codecs, you don't need an A/V receiver that does, though I might encourage you to get one anyway in case you get a new Blu-ray player in the future. Obviously, you do need an AVR with HDMI inputs to accept the PS3's PCM audio stream and high-def video.

Mom's is Better
I have a Samsung HL-T5687S 56-inch DLP HDTV with the LED light engine connected to a Blu-ray player. My mom has a Samsung LN52A650 52-inch LCD TV, also connected to a Blu-ray player. Both are connected with HDMI. Why does my mom's Blu-ray picture look much better than mine? On her LCD, the movies seem to pop right out of the screen; it almost looks 3D. Blu-ray looks good on my DLP, but it doesn't have quite the 3D effect that her LCD does. I was told it could be because she has 120Hz, but I thought that's only good when there's fast action. Her TV also looks better on still scenes.

John L. Oliva

The difference you note could be due to several factors. The first thing that comes to mind is that the DLP is a 2007 model, while the LCD is a 2008, and Samsung LCD TVs made a big leap in quality last year. Another difference is uniformity—the DLP probably has a hot spot, while the LCD is much more uniform in brightness across the screen. The two environments could also play a part—perhaps your mom's room is darker than yours? Finally, seating distance might be a factor—if your mom's screen occupies a smaller visual field than yours, it will likely appear sharper.

Lucy to the Rescue
I'm looking for a DVD changer that will play five DVDs in succession with no intervention from the user. I have an elderly disabled mother who is terrified of going to sleep at night. She watches DVDs of I Love Lucy all night, but once I go to sleep, she can't change the DVD when it's over. I put an old Toshiba DVD changer in her room, but once the first disc finishes, you have to press Next Disc, then wait until it loads, then press Play. She cannot operate the remote.

Is there a DVD changer that will bypass the DVD menu and play five discs in succession by itself? I tried a Samsung, which won't do this, and Yamaha tells me its changer won't either. If not, is there anyone who can modify a DVD changer to do this?

Dennis Senges

I know of no DVD changers that can do this, and I know of no one who can modify a changer in such a manner, which probably involves changing the firmware. Even if you found a changer that automatically went from the end of one disc to playing the next, it would probably call up the disc menu rather than starting the program directly. Perhaps our readers know of an exception...

As for your mother's fear of sleep, I suggest trying soothing music and/or meditation CDs. At least CD changers can play discs in sequence. Even better, load an iPod with her favorite music. That will last for many hours with no pause in playback.

Now that I'm thinking about iPods, maybe you could rip the I Love Lucy DVDs to a computer, re-encode them in MP4, and load them onto a video-capable iPod. That would take some work on your part, but maybe they could be played back sequentially with no user intervention. I've never done this with ripped DVDs, so I'm not sure it will work, but it might be worth a try.

Another solution, offered by reader Strawman, might be to rip the DVDs and put them on a network media server. Reader Fred points out that modern TiVo boxes can play all shows in a folder one after another, so if you can somehow transfer ripped files to a TiVo, that would solve the problem. Alternatively, you could simply record I Love Lucy off the air with a TiVo—after all, it's broadcast virtually 24 hours a day all around the world. Of course, in that case, you'd commercials, which have been excised from the DVDs.

If you have a home-theater question, please send it to scott.wilkinson@sorc.com.

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COMMENTS
Chris's picture

How about Ambien?

Bobula's picture

Ripping the shows sounds like the best idea. You could compress them to a DL DVD that will play for hours, or put them on a unit like the Iomega ScreenPlay which has a 500Gb HD and plays media right out to your TV.

JUAN GALLARDO's picture

Your opinion counts. I just bought brand new in a box a Yamaha RX-V1900BL 7.1-Channel Home Theater Receiver for $899, plus a 4 year extended warranty for just $129. I have not yet opened it. I read many reviews and come to the conclusion that the HD Radio feature and other specs. are important to me. I will be using it with a Panasonic Plasma 42PZ80U model, so video is also important. It this a decent deal?

Scott Wilkinson's picture

$899 is a very good deal, since that model lists for $1400, and the lowest online price I could find in a cursory search was $975. However, our tests of Yamaha AVRs, even the big RX-Z11, have revealed less-than-stellar video processing and clipping of below-black and above-white. This is especially surprising given that the Z11 uses VRS processing from Anchor Bay, which is generally considered very good. I don't know if the 1900 does this, but it also uses VRS processing.As for extended warranties, I generally don't recommend them, because solid-state electronics usually fail within a few weeks or months if they're going to fail at all, and the failure rate is very low. On the other hand, 4 years for $129 is $32.25/year, which seems a small price to pay for peace of mind if you worry about such things.

Jason's picture

I have a late 90's generation pioneer dvd player. On it is a memory button I could press. Once I pressed that memory button it would bypass the menu and go straight to the movie. Perhaps pioneer made a changer with the memory feature back then as well.

Julian Palmer III's picture

I have a PS3, a Sony LCD and a Pioneer receiver. I have my PS3 hooked up to the LCD via HDMI and I have the optical output of the LCD connected to the optical input of my receiver. My receiver is older and does not have HDMI, but it decodes Dolby Digital 5.1. My question is, some of the disc do not pay in Dolby Digital and I can't figure out why. While some will play perfectly. Any suggestions?

Chad Moran's picture

Julian, you need to try running the optical audio cable directly from the ps3 to the receiver. My dad had a similar issue and this is what he had to do. I'm in the same situation, I've always had mine set up this way. The only drawback is that you cannot get audio from the TV's speakers (which I wouldn't anyway).

abdulqader's picture

hi Home Theateriam going to buy home theater for playstation 3 and xbox 360 iam so confused which home theater i will buy all i want is really to enjoy 7.1 with the best sound quality i want to feel the real sound with the specific location of the sound just like iam playing in her the bullet coming from the the right sidethanks for the help

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